AN ARTICLE FROM THE BASEBALL MAGAZINE:MAY
WHAT IF: There are so many what ifs in life that its probably better not even to contemplate them. In baseball the what ifs are all around us as well. What if Babe Ruth had only been a pitcher? What if Bob Lemon had remained an outfielder? What if Herb Score had not been struck on the head by a line drive off the bat of Gil McDougald or Harry Frazee, the Boston Red Sox owner, had not sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees to finance a Broadway show? What if Ross Barnes, Ed Delahanty, and Addie Joss had not died so early in their careers? And to round this out, what if Johnny Hodapp hadnt hurt his knee in 1931 and would have been able to continue his career?
Johnny Hodapp first came up to the Majors in 1925. He saw limited service for that year and the next. However for his first four full years in the Major Leagues his batting average was around the .327 mark with a high of .354 in 1930. Not only could he hit but his fielding around third base was exceptional. He had great range and a very strong and accurate arm. He was also called upon to play second base every once in a while where he performed well. The only drawback he had was his lack of power. Over his nine year career he managed to hit just 28 HRS and knock in 429 RBIs. However at his peak, before his injury, that was beginning to improve.
His most memorable game had to be the one in which Cleveland destroyed the Yankees 24-6 on July 28, 1929. In that game Hodapp became the first ML to get two base hits in one inning. He had two singles in the second inning and then repeated the feat in the sixth. He also had a double, stole second, and while playing third base he participated in two double plays. In 1929 (his second year in the Majors) he hit .327, and had 31 doubles. Two years later he brought his average up to .354, had 121 RBIs, and led the league with 225 hits and 51 doubles. His next season he tore up his knee but still ended up with a .295 average. By 1932 Cleveland traded him to Chicago and this proved to be his worst year. He hit .219, couldnt field his position at third and his career seemed over. It wasnt though. Working hard during the off season, he managed to get his knee in reasonable shape. Playing a fair amount of games in 33 he hit a fine .311 but that was to be his swan song. He ended his career with a lifetime of.311, 429 RBIs, and 28 HRs. He passed away in 1980 at the age of 75. Before his injury it looked like Johnny Hodapp would turn out to be one of the great ones.